Satellites launched to serve Africa and Mideast

Reuters An Ariane rocket launched two satellites into orbit on Wednesday to provide telecommunications for Africa and the Middle East, European space officials said.

The Ariane-5 rocket blasted off from the European Space Agency’s launch centre in Kourou, French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America.

The NILESAT 201 satellite was designed to help Egyptian operator Nilesat provide telecommunications throughout the Middle East and north Africa.

It was built by Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture company owned by France’s Thales SA and Italy’s Finmeccanica.

The RASCOM-QAF1R satellite for pan-African operator RascomStar-QAF will provide telecommunications in rural Africa and urban African centres. It was also manufactured by Thales Alenia Space.

“Certain countries like mine are waiting for much in (telecommunications) connections between distant centres,” Thierry Savonarole Malevombo, the Central African Republic’s post and telecommunications minister, said after the launch.

“We are now in a position to bridge the digital divide,” said Toure Hamadoun, Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union.

Wednesday marked the 38th consecutive successful launch of an Ariane rocket.

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